6 ways of coping with Coronavirus

coping with coronavirus and social distancing

I don’t know with certainty if you can have too much of a good thing, but it’s definitely true that you can have too much of a bad thing. This is, without doubt, the most testing of times. Coping with coronavirus is unlike coping with anything we have ever experienced before and it is a massive ‘reframe’.

A reframe is when something comes along – an experience, a therapy, a different way of looking at things, that causes you to suddenly completely change your way of living and being.

Reframes are very powerful agents of change in the therapeutic world. For example in stopping smoking, a hypnotherapist may choose to reframe the pleasure of taking a puff on a cigarette, as sucking the life out of yourself. A neurolinguistic programming practitioner might reframe failure as ‘learning. There are an infinite number of reframes and they have different impacts for different people, depending on how the individual experiences them.

In terms of Covid-19, the impact of having to make such drastic changes to our view of the world can have the effect of putting everything else in the shade. Again and again I am finding that my clients are completely changing their focus with this new threat. Issues that have been plaguing them for days, weeks or even years, have suddenly been swept aside. They may not be gone for good (although they may be), but they are certainly not a priority anymore.

That would be great, were it not for the fact that coronavirus is SO big that many are struggling even more.

Quite frankly, I am too.

Covid-19 is beyond anything, and different people will deal with it in different ways. Is there a best way to deal with it? Maybe, but it is a different ‘best way’ for each of us.

How can I cope with the impact of coronavirus?

Here is a quick list of some ways I am dealing with coronavirus right now:

  1. Information management.
    Every single email, blog and news item is about Coranavirus. Every company is telling us what they are doing about it. There are posts from everybody on Facebook. The news is full of it.
    Ofcourse it is. All this information is overwhelming and many of my coaching clients are glued to their phone, trying to make sense of it all. They are looking for hope or they are looking for proof of their fears.
    Let go of it a bit. It’s too serious to ignore, I know. We need to know what the latest advice is, but realistically, is that much going to change in the duration of one day? Give yourself a hit of it just once. Here in the UK there are daily briefings at 5 p.m. currently, broadcast on TV and other channels. I watch these, or read the summary afterwards. The rest of the time, I try to leave it alone and get on with my day.
    It’s not a perfect system. We are a family. We need to talk about things. Sometimes emotions, fear, anxiety, anger get the better of us and we need to talk things through. It’s about managing it so I can function at some level.
  2. Looking for the opportunity.
    I have mentioned this before. In every situation there is an opportunity. Sometimes it’s pretty well hidden and it may not seem that big. There is always something.
    In my case, for example, there is the chance to spend more time with my family at home. We are doing stuff together. Today we looked for bugs in the garden. We did a famiily Yoga session. We did gardening. Seeds were planted – actually and metaphorically.
    For my business it is an opportunity to focus more on my online and telephone work. That is something I have been promising myself I would do for about 3 years. Now I have to do it.
    So ask yourself – ‘what is the opportunity that this is?’ Keep asking it. This isn’t about ‘positive thinking’ it’s about channeling your energy into action.
  3. Watch your bedtime routine.
    This may be just me, but I find that when my wife and I wind things up at the end of the day, we often wind ourselves up too.
    And not in a good way.
    As I said in number 2, above – things need talking through. You can’t just ignore the issues. But bedtime is not the time to do it. We all need our beauty sleep. Your unconscious mind will be on overtime at night, processing all this stuff in dreams, trying to protect you from it all. You don’t need to make its job even harder by lying awake worrying because you have started working yourself up just before bed time. There will be sleepless nights anyway. Take care of yourself.
  4. Be realistic.
    In an effort to cope, it can be tempting to push stuff to the back of your mind. Up to a point this can be helpful. But don’t use that as an way to give yourself permission to take the wrong sort of risks. When we are told to do things like maintain social distance, it can be tempting to think it doesn’t have to apply to us. If you feel well, it is hard to imagine how just being near somebody, having a chat, could be life threatening. But it is. If not to you, to someone you know. Maybe someone you love.
  5. Pay attention to your psychological needs.
    Your basic psychological needs are probably going to be severely compromised for the next few months or longer. Things that you took for granted, that fulfill your psychological needs, are no longer possible in the same way. Your need for community, for example, normally is fulfilled every time you take part in a team sport. It gets a little hit when you go to your book club, or your walking group, or even just going to work. That’s not going to be possible any longer. Think about how you could fulfil it now, even a little. Can you be active in a Facebook group? What about joining a forum, or playing an online game?
    This is just one example to get you thinking. It’s vital that you attend to all these needs if you are to get through this, for you and your loved ones. So watch this space for more ideas.
  6. Look outward and offer help
    What can you do to help at this time and what skills or knowledge do you have that can make the lives of others easier? Who is suffering most and can you do anything to alleviate that suffering. Look close, at your own loved ones. Look at your community. Pay attention to the world around you and find something you can do that will make a difference.

Things are moving very quickly right now. I have noticed that things I said and wrote even last week, are no longer true. Only change is constant. It is going to be a long job, and you need to be at your best. Stay strong.

Robert Sanders is a therapist and life coach, supporting people in their present and helping them create their future.

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